SYDNEY’S returning cavalry has been put to the sword by a ruthless Greater Western Sydney in a 42-point derby drubbing that leaves the Swans condemned to their worst start to a season in nearly quarter of a century.
Sydney welcomed Kurt Tippett, Gary Rohan and Isaac Heeney back for the Saturday night mission to halt the Giants’ three-match winning streak and prevent them scoring their first ever win at the SCG.
With four goals in the first five minutes the crowd of 35,824 had reason for optimism, but from that point on, the Giants gained control and hardly gave an inch.
Full match details and statistics
GWS scored the next nine goals to lead by 32 at half-time and, though Sydney rallied in the third term to reduce the margin by 10 points, the Giants’ rode their depth of talent to win 15.15 (105) to 9.9 (63).
On a bleak night for the red and white, there was something worth cheering late in the match when Lance Franklin kicked his third goal to take his career tally to 800, not that it meant much in the context of 2017, which now joins 1993 as seasons in which Sydney went winless in the first five games.
The Giants, meanwhile, can hang their hat on obliterating the Swans in contested possession and clearances, allowing their outside runners to run rampant.
The load was shared, with nine players grabbing over 20 touches, including Callan Ward (27), Nick Haynes and Jeremy Cameron (24 each) and Tom Scully and Zac Williams (23 each).
Toby Greene continued his breakout season with four goals, propelling GWS to a winning margin that equals their previous biggest win over their cross-town rivals.
"Everyone contributed, whether it was the defensive part of their game or getting the ball themselves," Giants coach Leon Cameron said.
"They’re clearly understanding that one man can’t do everything. Like every team in the competition is trying to have 22 contributors every week, we’re no different."
Sydney coach John Longmire said his side needed to press ahead, despite their woes.
"There's still a lot of footy to play this year and we just have to get up off the canvas and get going again," he said.
"There's no easy way to do it, there's a test in AFL football every week, and we haven't come up to scratch yet, but we need to get going in a hurry."
Sydney’s month of frustration exploded into a blistering start to the match in which they scored 24 points while denying the Giants a single possession. But the first half would turn out to be demoralising.
After easing their way back into the contest, GWS completely reversed the momentum, scoring 34 of the next 35 points.
They took the lead with a typically opportunistic Steve Johnson goal in the 28th minute of the first term and made it a 10-point quarter-time lead with Cameron’s first goal.
Five talking points: Sydney v Greater Western Sydney
A further four majors in the second term to Sydney’s three behinds sent GWS to a 9.6.(60) 4.4.(28) half-time advantage as Giants midfielders Scully, Josh Kelly and Ward dominated their celebrated opponents. Ward was particularly influential in the second quarter, while Scully was a beneficiary of Shane Mumford’s clear ascendancy in the ruck over Tippett and Callum Sinclair.
As in the opening exchanges of the first half, Sydney had joy at the start of the second, with goals to Sinclair and Rohan reducing the gap to 20 points.
But they got no closer, trailing by 22 at the final break despite playing a much better controlled period in which they stifled the Giants’ run.
GWS showed its prowess again in the final quarter, piling on another four goals to one.
Sydney: Sam Reid received attention in the dressing room after his chin was split in the first term. He returned to the game with tape covering the wound. Heath Grundy left the ground for assessment after Jeremy Cameron crashed the pack and collected him in a marking contest. He returned to the game about 20 minutes later. Josh Kennedy left the field under the blood rule after a nasty friendly fire knock from Luke Parker. Kennedy was taped up. Dan Hannebery suffered a corked leg in the final quarter.
Greater Western Sydney: The Giants appeared to get through the Sydney derby unscathed.
The Swans will seek their first win of the season against Carlton in Melbourne next Saturday, as their draw, arguably, opens up a bit. The Giants host the premiers, the Bulldogs, for a blockbuster Friday night clash in Canberra
SYDNEY 4.1 4.4 8.7 9.9 (63)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 5.5 9.6 11.11 15.15 (105)
Sydney: Franklin 3, Tippett, J. Kennedy, Papley, Rohan, Sinclair, Parker
Greater Western Sydney: Greene 4, Cameron 2, Smith 2, Patton, Lobb, Johnson, Ward, Tomlinson, Williams, S.Reid
Sydney: Kennedy, Hannebery, Lloyd, Jones
Greater Western Sydney: Mumford, Scully, Greene, Cameron, Haynes, Williams, Davis
Greater Western Sydney: Nil
Reports: Toby Greene (GWS) for rough conduct on Isaac Heeney (Sydney) in the first quarter
Umpires: Deboy, Meredith, Ryan
Official crowd: 34,824 at the SCG